The Reggio Emilia Approach
Principles To Our Program – Adopted From The Reggio Emilia Approach to Education
The following are the principles from the Reggio Emilia approach, which inspire the practice and decisions made at IsolaBella Academy (they are based on the book “Foundations of the Reggio Emilia Approach” by Lella Gandini). Director Nicolina Francini-Knick had the pleasure of meeting and listening to Lella Gandini’s perspective in the Spring 2016. She hopes to visit IsolaBella Academy when she is available again in the area.
Image of the Child
Our image of children no longer considers them as isolated and egocentric, does not only see them as engaged in action with objects, does not emphasis only the cognitive aspects, does not belittle feelings or what is not logical and does not consider with ambiguity the role of the reflective domain. Instead our image of the child is rich in potential, strong, powerful, competent and, most of all, connected to adults and children.
Loris Malaguzzi (founder of the Reggio Emilia approach)
Malaguzzi, L., quoted in Penn, H., Comparing Nurseries: Staff and Children in Italy, Spain and the UK, Paul Chapman Publishing, 1997, p. 117.
Children are viewed as competent, curious, full of knowledge, potential, and interested in connecting to the world around them. Teachers are deeply aware of children’s potentials and construct all of their work and environment of the children’s experience to respond appropriately.
Collaboration and Interaction
Collaboration and cooperation are intentional in a school inspired by the Reggio Emilia approach to education. The entire system is designed to be connected and in relationship. Nothing is left to sit in isolation. Everything is alive and connected. Children, teachers and families join together to continually improve the system that supports our school community.
The space within the school or the environment is considered the third teacher. Teachers intentionally organize, support and plan for various spaces for children. The daily schedules are planned to ensure that there is a balance between individual, small and large group activities, child initiated and teacher initiated activity and inside as well as outside experiences.
The Three Subjects of Education: Children, Families and Teachers
For children to learn, their well-being has to be guaranteed; such well-being is connected with the well being of parents and teachers. Children, parents and teachers have rights; the right to safety, care and welfare, the right to be involved and the right to grow professionally.
The Power of Documentation
Documentation is a means to collect information, observations and learning. It can be in the form of observations, photography, video, conversation transcripts and/or visual mediums like paint, wire, clay or drawing materials. Teachers use documentation to identify strengths, ideas, and next steps to support learning.
Emergent Curriculum is a way of teaching and learning that requires teachers to observe and listen to the children. Teachers ask questions and listen for the children’s ideas, hypotheses and theories. After observing children in action, the teachers compare, discuss, and interpret their observations. Teachers plan activities, studies and long-term projects in the classroom based on their observations. Teachers partner with children and the exchange of theories are referred to as the Cycle of Inquiry. Teachers use their interpretations, intentions and goals (social, emotional and academic) to make choices that they share with children. Learning is seen not as a linear process but as a spiraling progression.
The Hundred Languages of Children
The Atelier (our art center) has two parts. We have a space that is dedicated to exploring certain art materials and experiences that have been designed/staged by a teacher. We also have a space that is for children to freely explore materials that are readily available for them to use and explore as they choose (also referred to as our free art table). What is done with the materials in these spaces is not always art per se, because in the view of Reggio educators the children’s use of media is not a separate part of the curriculum but an integral part of the whole cognitive symbolic expression process of learning.
The Role of the Teacher
The image of the child shapes the role of the teacher and involves four major components. Teachers are:
- Co-constructors: partners, guides, nurtures, solves problems, learns, hypothesizes
- Researchers: learns, observes, revisits
- Documenters: listens, records, displays, revisits
- Advocates for children: involved in the community, politics relating to children, speaks for children and presents work to other educators and community members.
The Role of Parents/Guardians
Parents are an essential component of the school. They are an active part of their children’s learning experiences and help to ensure the welfare of all the children in the school. Through their volunteer roles, parents are key to the daily functioning of the school.
Projects provide the backbone of the children’s and teachers’ learning experiences. They are based on the strong convictions that learning by doing is of great importance and that to discuss in-group and to revisit ideas and experiences is the premier way of learning. Project ideas come from experiences of the children and teachers, a chance event or problem posed. They can last from a few days to several months.
For more information on the Reggio Emilia approach
Websites: North American Reggio Emilia Alliance (NAREA) is a network of educators, parents, and advocates seeking to elevate both the quality of life and the quality of schools and centers for young children.
The Reggio Emilia Approach to Pre-School Education is a joint website of a European Network bringing together preschools that’s been inspired by the Reggio Emilia Approach for many years from different countries.
ReggioChildren.it contains resources published by Reggio Children.